The Pursuit of Technical Excellence – Life as a Typical Asian Male

The honest truth is that for many Asian Males, we are strongly influenced by our parents in deciding life choices. Our parents would decide which school and courses to take, musical instrument, and sometimes extracurricular activities as well. It was their way of showing us that they cared for their children and wanted to give them as many tools to succeed in life. These tools ended up being a form of knowledge and technical skills. Take music as an example. Piano or violins were the rites of passage as an Asian child growing up. I remember my mother sitting me down at the piano and placed a two hour clock timer on the clock instructing me to practice. Honestly I didn’t enjoy it, and I resented the fact I was forced to do it. Always pursuing the error-free piece was something I obsessed over, yet it eluded me. Nevertheless it laid the groundwork for studying and discipline.

Our Favourite Analytical Subjects

Math and Natural Sciences were definitely my favourite subjects growing up through primary and secondary schooling. The beauty of these subjects was that there was this logic behind it all that just made sense. I could just rely on my intuition and instincts and completely succeed in these subject areas. Mathematics had that property that everything was based on another proof after proof (or axiom), and aside from the minimal memorization was just being careful. The majority of errors would come from carelessness, so I would do my best to not become complacent. Sciences were the same, with the slight exception of Biology that required more memorization. All I had to do was really two things: think and memorize. That’s probably why I battled with English literature and Social Sciences early on. I had absolutely no experience or reference when it came to human interaction, thoughts, and feelings. My repertoire of books consisted of non-fiction instructional books and periodicals: computers, food, cars, and of course video games. There was no fiction in my library – which is probably why I despised English classes growing up. I was taught to replicate – not to think and feel.

The Social Subjects and Creativity

Essays, I completely dreaded that word. To this day I still don’t quite understand what it really means. Perhaps to the best of my knowledge it’s just a composition using words to formulate a message with a clear beginning, middle, and end. When it came to literature, I completely was at a loss for words. Of course I knew the basic love story themes, and epic battles, but being able to turn my thoughts and feelings into words was completely different. My parents never helped me with schoolwork actually. I was mostly self-taught, and it was not until midway through my undergraduate degree did I actually take a liking for the Social Sciences.

When it came to artistic creativity, it was frowned upon by my mother. She would lecture me how Artists have poor money management skills and always had troubling lives. I listened early as a child and never took a liking. When it came to art classes growing up, I would apply what I knew. Since there was a formula for math and natural sciences, there must be one for art as well. I would pay attention to the details and techniques – replicating pieces, but I would never truly understand its purpose. I lacked the spontaneity to create something out of nothing.

Actually this is quite common for Asian Cultures. You will even notice that many artistic presentations are based on adherence to strict order, technical abilities, and form. Things have been so rehearsed that there is a technical perfection we appreciate in Asian Culture. Combined in a massive group, it is quite impressive watching a large group of people perform each movement with perfect timing and synchronization. Beyond the rigid order, there is no individualism, and no means of expression. Yes it’s very beautiful and orderly, but it still leaves me empty inside.

Introverted Tendencies for being Technical

To nobody’s surprise, we find the technically skilled individuals have little to say. They are amazing at what they do, but when they are deep into their focus, they often result in an absence of social interaction. The sheer amount of knowledge required in many professional careers requires careful focus and a level-headedness which is suitable for what I call the Technophile types. Their mindset is more of a long-term basis. Yes, they forget to live in the moment, but they have consistent, predictable, and reliable nature to them which makes them attractive. Would you be concerned if your Comedian type was a brain surgeon? He may be too busy being engaged in conversations to be doing his surgical duties.

What Can We Do As Asian Males?

There are two choices really. You keep doing what you do, or you take action. To be with a White Female, often changes will have to be made. Her upbringing into a life of love and expression may be the complete opposite of your Asian structure and discipline. Granted there are many types of females, by improving social skills, physique, and grooming you give yourself a better chance as an Asian Male. While you do not have to completely transform yourself, it is incredibly helpful to build secondary skills to compliment your inherent technical skills. The only way to learn is from experience. This means you have to get out there, try, and fail – many times. It’s all part of growing up.

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5 Responses to The Pursuit of Technical Excellence – Life as a Typical Asian Male

  1. Tara says:

    Hi Brian,

    It’s funny to hear you say that you struggled with essays. I find your writing on this blog to be both high quality and highly introspective.

    I think the drive for excellence and love of all things analytical can make Asian men very attractive to certain kinds of females. Personally, I have a great deal of respect for guys that are good at math, science, computers, etc., precisely because those are things that I am a bit weak in. I’m definitely a humanities/social sciences kind of gal. So maybe it’s a case of opposites attract? All I know is I find hard-working intelligent guys irresistible and I would really love to be with a guy whose strengths are opposite mine (and I’m sure I can’t be the only one who feels this way). I think this is one of the main reasons I’m so attracted to Asian guys.

    During my time teaching English in China I’ve definitely noticed how different the education system is. I’m always impressed by the technical abilities of my students, but it is true that I have to push them to be creative and think outside the box. I feel the American and Chinese education systems (and societies in general) are unbalanced in opposite ways. Creativity is good, but it’s just an empty front if you don’t have a solid analytical core to back it up. Ideas are useless if you don’t possess the skill to put them into action. Technical ability is great, but being a fact regurgitating automaton isn’t going to propel society forward. I do have to say I wish my own education had been heavier on developing solid math and science skills.

    I think Western born Asian guys are really in a unique position to balance the two approaches and achieve truly great things (and be truly wonderful mates). I can see how growing up with a family that stresses one set of values and a surrounding culture that stresses another could be really really frustrating, but an Asian guy that can take the best from both worlds is pure gold.

    Oh, and I think owning mostly non-fiction just means you like to learn things while you read. My bookshelf is also non-fiction heavy despite my aversion to math/science. I’d rather read a history book than a novel.

    • AMWF Love says:

      Hey Tara,

      Thanks for the comments!

      Oh man the two subjects I absolutely dreaded in primary and secondary school were French and English (Language Arts). Believe it or not, I was absolutely terrible at those subjects. When I look back, I realize that most of it was a lack of exposure and my maturity level at that time. My perspective as a teenager was a lot different now in my mid 20’s. I really began out of pure necessity. It started off by first listening to a lot of ranting by my female friends. After while you begin to notice reoccuring themes – they just wanted someone to vent to (not to completely solve their problems) and the need for reciprocal affection. In a way I kind of built my knowledge based on my conversations. Of course I also exposed myself to television and literature, but nothing really replaced real human interaction.

      Being born and raised in Canada led me to pseudo-duality in life. I went to school exposed to Western Culture, and I went home to a Chinese household. What made things easier was that there were many Canadian born Chinese (Hong Kong as well) in my area. So naturally we stuck together. I remember my first Caucasian girlfriend – she was absolutely amazing. As you already know, Asians in general are not the most athletically gifted individuals. Perhaps I was an exception. Anyways she was 5’7, athletic, and exceptionally brilliant (like smarter than most Asians). Unfortunately our paths were not meant to intertwine and she relocated far away for school (and career).

      In regards to technical abilities and creativity, I think it is a terrible tragedy to pursue perfection. There is a loss of the human element which is absolutely critical to society. Technique is your support and crutch to express yourself, but you also need a good concept behind it as well. Much of Asian Culture is deeply rooted in tradition and order, so being able to freely express yourself is often limited in many countries without political freedom. This is not to say that it isn’t impossible to develop both technical and creative abilities either.

      Either that or you can find a complimentary partnership that can encourage technical and creative abilities. I guess that’s a huge aspect of AMWF Relationships and what can make them very sastifying. The only one thing you have to remember is that because primary traits are complimentary, often at times you will not think the same way as the other person. Honestly the key is just to share the objective and goals, then appreciate the different approaches. It doesn’t matter what path you take, we all end up at the same place. 🙂

      – Brian

      • Tara says:

        HI Brian,

        Thanks for your reply. I really like the last paragraph. A complimentary partnership is exactly what I am looking for! I think someone having a different approach is ok as long as we share some important values.

        I’m kind of curious as to why Chinese parents are always pushing piano or violin. Is there any particular reason for this? I’m personally a big fan of world music and I love all kinds of unique folk instruments. I find that China has a really rich native musical heritage, yet there isn’t nearly as much interest in learning to play Chinese instruments as learning to play piano or violin. I started taking guzheng lessons for fun and I often get funny looks and comments about it, but Chinese learning “Western” instruments is so common it’s cliche.

        “What made things easier was that there were many Canadian born Chinese (Hong Kong as well) in my area. So naturally we stuck together.”
        This is just a personal observation, and I absolutely don’t mean to offend at all, but I find Cantonese people to be a bit of a paradox. My experience is that they have the most cosmopolitan outlook of all the Chinese I meet, yet more “cliquish” than Chinese from other areas. Since I teach at a university in Beijing, there are top students from all over China, and I find the Cantonese students don’t interact much with the other students. And when I was taking Mandarin classes as an undergraduate, about a third of the students were Cantonese, but they really only interacted with each other and I kind of got the impression that they looked down on the rest of us. And now that I think of it, all of my Chinese-American friends have families from Taiwan or northern/central mainland China. Anyway, I’m not sure if this is just all in my head or if Cantonese really are a little different due to being a linguistic minority or having more direct experience with colonialism or some other reason. Sorry if this is a bit off topic, just curious about your thoughts. Again, I don’t mean to offend by my comments, I’ve been to Hong Kong twice and it’s an amazing place.

      • AMWF Love says:

        Hey Tara,

        Most people search for compatible partners that are much like themselves. This is not wrong to share common interests, but there most also be some form of complimentary characteristics. Suppose they are both naturally outgoing, and have a knack for a little exhuberance. Who would keep each other’s spending habits in check? Who would take care of the kids? Little things like that.

        The reason for Chinese parents placing their children in piano or violin stems from roughly 600AD with the Chinese Imperial Examinations. Job placement was essentially determined by how well you ranked on the exams, but there was a slight flaw. The exams tested for arthmetic, calligraphy, military tactics, Confucian theory, and of course music. Although the exams were roughly abolished in 1905, after 1400 years it remains ingrained in our upbringing subconsiously. Technically there are still entrance exams to many schools – even preschool in Hong Kong. Piano and violin has this positive externality that the intense memorization and discipline can carry over to academics and aid in memorization. Unfortunately what it also promotes is concentrated introvertness as well.

        I agree with the paradox with Asians with Southern Chinese origins being in cliques. The reason why we grativate towards each other naturally because we understand each other. Our parents came to North America for high school and post secondary, and we just grew up together from elementary to post secondary (It happens quite often). Some of your peers in your Mandarin class may have been friends for over five years. If they have grown so comfortable with their network of friends, perhaps they are not as willing to expand their network further. There is actually a bit of a conflict between Mainland China and its special regions namely Hong Kong and Macau. I relate more with a Taiwanese individual than someone from Beijing. There’s also common ground with people from Malaysia and Singapore as well.

        Growing up I used to smirk at the Hong Kong “fobs” (Fresh off the Boat) that would have interesting social conduct. Things like a conversational voice would equate to whispering, or the smell of moth balls would remind me that I was born in Canada. Techinically the boat people refer to the Vietnamese who fled Communism in boats to claim refugee status, but somehow we termed the Hong Kong immigrants as “fobs”. Once I entered post secondary I was greeted with an incredible wave of Mainland Chinese students. All my Chinese friends growing up are from the Hong Kong region, so naturally I stuck with them in post secondary. Some of the “fobby” colleagues would end up returning to Hong Kong, and now we had to deal with the Mainlanders.

        There actually has been a minor conflict between the Mainland and non-Mainland Chinese. Believe it or not, there are occurences of intra-Chinese racism. Even I, as Hong Kong Chinese cannot teach English in China – that’s just how it is, they will not trust a non-Mainland Chinese. What was most difficult dealing with the Mainland was how strong the “shame culture” was evident. Even in Hong Kong prior to the 1997 handover, there was 100 years of British rule so much of the British Law was implemented. What I mean by this is that there are questionable elements of human character that puzzle me. Shame occurs when you are caught, and if nobody questions you, then everything is fine. This is widely apparent in the Chinese corporate world exploiting many loopholes in the system. This irresponsibility could be traced back to the individuals who run the organization. Without integrity and character, how are we supposed to trust individuals and organizations?

        In regards to your comments, I’m not at all offended by them. Naturally we had some internals controls placed by our parents classifying the Caucasians as the “white ghosts” (gwai lo). Our parents raised us to believe that the Caucasians were hedonists (often divorcing) who were unable to manage their finances. While not every Asian child believed that, that is the general thought about Caucasians. Thus we ended up sticking together. If a White Female actually came up to us and wanted to join our group, we would accept it, providing that she was willing to “integrate” in the future. This is a bigger issue with the non-Westernized Asians. For myself I’m already integrated in Western Culture, I still respect my roots as Hong Kong Chinese, but I want to share it with someone complimentary. Someone who doesn’t have to completely understand me initially, but is willing to grow with me. She would keep me in check by disagreeing with me at times, but that’s because she cares.

        People of common interests will naturally gravitate towards each other. Yes it’s probably our fault for making it appear deterring, but we didn’t mean for it to be offensive to others. It’s like sharing an inside joke with your best friend. Now try to share that joke with a stranger and see the results. Making new friends and contacts takes a lot of time to build. Sometimes we just get too comfortable with things. The fact that you openly admit you like Asian Men will be the single most important factor in attracting Asian Men. Unfortunately it will also open the door to every single Asian Male possible, and massive filtering will ensue. 🙂

        Alright that’s enough for now!

        – Brian

  2. cheung3fung says:

    “This means you have to get out there, try, and fail – many times. It’s all part of growing up”
    —->Sometimes, failure is not an option. Lets take for example the relationship between Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz. I just read an article today about them splitting up after dating for 4 years, and Cameron Diaz is now 38 years old. Maybe actresses do things different, but a regular single 38 year old gal usually ends up marrying a man in their 50’s. Justin just basically stole 4 years from her, a time when she could have been looking for a legitimate husband closer to age. Can he just say he tried and failed?

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